Jimmy is an entrepreneur/CEO of Findlay Hats, based in Portland, Oregon. He has a background in professional photography, having started his first photo business at the age of 16. He is mainly self-taught having no formal business school training.
Jimmy is passionate about growing his customer-centric business, and loves dogs and coffee.
On today’s episode, Kunle interviews Jimmy Hickey, Co-Founder & CEO of Findlay Hats, a 6 year-old Portland-based company producing unique, functional and patented hats. “Built for Good Times” is the common theme running through their comms, work culture and customer community.
Jimmy shares his story of leaving behind professional photography to pursue what was a sidegig he started along with Co-founder, Sarah Wishard. They started out in a living room with their first batch of 80 hats, and have today grown to a 7-figure business having a 100k strong community called “Findlay Force”.
Jimmy shares his insights and learnings from growing his company organically using communities and word-of-mouth, to fast-tracking growth leveraging Facebook ads. You will get to hear about strategies to use in Facebook marketing, and how to build (and manage) active communities.
Here is a summary of some of the most important points made,
Findlay Hats had already grown organically before leveraging FB ads
Your website is a crucial part of your marketing (and conversion) strategy
It is possible to learn “the rules of the game” and manage your own FB ad account
The base of any company is a strong product and exceptional customer service
Generating social proof of your business is crucial to attracting new customers
On today’s interview Kunle and Jimmy discuss,
FB marketing strategies
Community management tips
Challenges of expanding globally
6:05 – Meet Jimmy Hickey
7:20 – What makes Findlay Hats unique?
Patented stampede lace
Utility that makes them “Built for good times”
Hidden Stash pocket
Embroidery, leather patches done and other finishing done in-house
Product-focused company – 12/15 staff in production
9:45 – Strategy upon launching:
Focus on word-of-mouth marketing
Building a community organically
11:20 – How their community was their patent before the actual patent
12:55 – How Findlay Hats was only a side-gig to begin with
15:30 – Initial days and founding team:
Started with 1400 bucks and made 80 hats in a living room to start
Started the company with Co-Founder, Sarah Wishard, who now runs the seamstress dept
First website was on Squarespace, but moved to Shopify after a year
16:30 – Getting the first 1000 customers
17:28 – “We wanted to be the hometown hero, before we can be a global brand”
19:10 – How direct communication with people on FB & IG helped create the “Finlay Force”
24:10 – Using community, contests, collabs, events to find new customers
26:40 – How a chance meeting with a customer got them on the first page of Reddit
27:45 – Transitioning from organic-only to targeted FB ads
After a slow 2016, they jumped into FB ads in 2017
Jimmy learned the trade through courses on udemy and facebook blueprint
Making short videos worked on FB ads
Jimmy still manages his FB ad account
Shoelace – agency who helps with retargeting
32:20 – Minor product strategy change which allowed higher ad spend:
Mystery box was added in 2020
Changed to weekly drops instead of seasonal launches
39:40 – DNA of a Finlay Force member
42:21 – Tips for managing facebook groups and communities
46:05 – 3 principles for high-performing FB ad campaigns:
Create strong eye-catching content that “stops the scroll”
Great Offer with a strong CTA
Targeting the right audience (Protip: Lookalike audiences)
49:45 – This one thing can derail your otherwise perfect social media strategy
50:45 – Tenets of building strong and active communities:
Genuinely caring about followers – “Find out what they are passionate about and relate to”
Direct communication – Jimmy and his colleagues spend 20-40 hours/week on this form of interaction
Superior customer service – nobody should have bad memories of the brand
Generate social proof – “98% of people on the internet don’t actually comment or engage, but they read comments and reviews”
Have a strong and unique product backed by customer-friendly warranty and return policies
57:34 – Lessons learnt from expanding globally
62:50 – Lightning round
Q: What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
A: Learn about FB advertising now!
Q: Are you a morning person?
Q: What’s your morning routine?
A: Wake up between 8am-9:30am, walk the dogs, have coffee, spend some time on Reddit before heading out to the warehouse.
Q: What are 2 things you can’t live without?
A: My Dogs & Caffeine
Q: What are 3 indispensable tools for your business?
A: Shopify, Gorgias (for customer service), Facebook & Shipstation
Q: What’s been your best mistake till date? A set back that’s given you the biggest feedback
A: Not starting FB ads till as late as 2017 was the mistake. But that forced us to grow organically and focus on building our community.
Focus on growing locally using your community helps build your brand
You must genuinely care about your fans to build a responsive engaging community
Lookalike audiences are very useful when trying to bring new people into your funnel
Generating visual proof of your business through reviews, comments, shares is critical for bringing in new customers
“We wanted to be the hometown hero, before we can be a global brand”
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